Wednesday

Daytrip - Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area

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On 10/22/2016 Jim Herring and I made a trip to the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, 8.2 miles west of Searchlight, NV. Along the way we visited the Southern Nevada Spokane Mine site in Searchlight, a stop at the Walking Box Ranch, and a visit to the Crescent Peak Mine Road. We finally ended the day with lunch at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, NV. Our main objective and stop for the day was for the Joshua Trees at the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area.

Tuesday

Daytrip - St. Thomas Nevada

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On 10/13/2016 Blake Smith, Jim Herring and I took a trip out to the Lake Mead ghost town of St. Thomas. Even after having visited this place on at least three previous visits, we explored an area that I had never been to. A new map that I found on the Internet pointed out the section of town where the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad had built a spur to service St. Thomas back in 1912. In making the posting for this visit, I reorganized my original postings by recreating a "summery" page of my previous visits. Here is the link to the summary page and then used the links found here to today's and other visits. St. Thomas Nevada - Summary Page

Monday

Daytrip - Ghost Mining Town of Delamar, Nevada

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On 09/23/2016, Robert Croke and I drove to Delamar Valley to meet up with Harvey Smith for a trip out to the 124 year old ghost town of Delamar. It was an absolutely beautiful day that provided us all with a unique exploring experience. We spent the better part of a day riding and hiking around the remains of this once huge town. At one time this gold mining town boasted more than 1,500 residents, a hospital, opera house, churches, a school, several businesses and many saloons. It has been written that more than $15 million dollars worth of gold was produced from 1892 to 1909. As gold production slowed, many of the town’s residents moved on to the new boom town of Tonopah, Nevada. In 1909 all of a sudden, Delamar died an abrupt death when the veins of gold ore suddenly tapped out and the operation was closed. Click here to view the pictures and a description of today's visit ... Delamar Nevada - 09/23/2016 Trip Notes

Daytrip - Yucca Peak Fossil Beds hike at DNWR

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On 10/04/2016 Jim Herring, Blake Smith and I went to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge to hike the Yucca Peak Fossil ridge in search of some sea fossils. It was a beautiful day and made for a great hike. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we were all a little out of shape due to a lack of hiking over the summer, we never made it to the top of the ridge. We did, however, find a few fossils and had a great hike. Click here for pictures and a description of this hike ... Yucca Peak Fossil Beds Hike - 10/04/2016 Trip Notes.

Saturday

St. Thomas - 10/13/2016 Trip Notes

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(Fig. 01)



Directions: St. Thomas is located approximately 82 miles NE of Las Vegas. From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and turn right to merge onto US-93/95. Go 12.5 miles and Merge onto NV-564 E/W Lake Mead Pkwy via Exit 61B. Heading east on NV-564 (Lake Mead Blvd) go over the mountains (passing between Frenchman Mountain to the south and Sunrise Mountain to the north) to the park entrance station. Pay the entrance fee ($5 per car or an annual pass), and proceed to the T-intersection with Northshore Road (NV Rt 167) and Lakeshore Road (NV Rt 166). Bear left and drive north on Northshore Road (NV 167) towards Overton, NV. Turn right opposite the Valley of Fire Road onto Old St. Thomas Road and travel 3.3 miles to the parking area and trailhead at the end. The picture in (Fig. 01 above) is of Blake Smith heading out from the parking and trailhead area.
                                                        
(Fig. 02)
(Fig.03)
10/13/2016 Trip NotesToday was Jim Herring's first visit to visit to St. Thomas, though both Blake and I had both been there on two or more occasions. As a result, I didn't take very many pictures, however, I did hike to a section of town that I had not visited before. The map in (Fig. 02 above) is a pre-flooding reconstruction showing the lay out of St. Thomas. The path we hiked today is shown on the map in yellow. After hiking down from the trailhead, the path to the town is a somewhat downhill easy hike across the level valley floor as seen in (Figs. 01 & 03). Once we reached the are of the towns' "main drag" (Fig. 04), we turned right and headed west (see Fig. 02) in search of the original train tracks that once serviced the town (see Note below). Along the way we were buzzed overhead by an ultralight (Fig. 05). When we reached the end of this short walk we came to a foundation that was the old packing shed (#4) (Fig. 06). From here we turned left and headed southeast (refer to Fig. 02). Even though none of the old rails exist, all along this clear path we found several railroad ties that showed where the RR track once existed (Figs. 07-09). As we toured this area and the rest of the town, we found several examples of remaining remnants that haven't been scavenged over the years (Figs. 10 & 11). When we finished hiking around the town, we headed back down Northshore Drive to Roger's Spring, where we enjoyed a relaxing picnic lunch (Fig. 12).
                                                    
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)









(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)


Note:  The Union Pacific railroad built a branch down to the valley and used St Thomas as a terminus, between 1910 and 1918. In 1912, the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad built a spur to St. Thomas to haul produce from local farms and ore from the gold and copper mines in the surrounding hills. A large salt mine was located just south of St. Thomas. It was a busy frontier town. The farmers there grew a wide variety of crops, including peaches, melons, grapes, figs, wheat, barley, corn, almonds and asparagus. Then during the First World War the price of copper rose and with thousands of head of stock being freighted from St Thomas to Grand Gulch mine things really got lively. It was at this same time that the Arrowhead Trail was built through the Valley of Fire to St Thomas, which caused the tourist business to grow for the Gentry Hotel.

Return to previous summary page [St Thomas Nevada - Summary Page]

Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area - Summary Page

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This page last updated on 06/12/2017
(Fig. 01)













(Fig. 02)


Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and bear right to merge onto US-515/93/95 south towards Boulder City. Follow US-93/95 for 17 miles and then merge onto US-95 South (Veterans Memorial Hwy) toward Searchlight/Laughlin/Needles. When you reach Searchlight, about 36 miles, turn right, west, onto NV-164 (known at the Joshua Tree Highway) towards Nipton. The trailhead and the Wee Thump East Road is located on the right (Fig. 02), about 8.2 miles west of Searchlight.

Description: First, it must be noted that the large sign shown in (Fig. 01) that once stood at the entrance to the Trailhead (TR) and the Wee Thump East Road (Fig. 02) has been vandalized by locals and no longer exists. "Wee Thump" is Paiute for "ancient ones."
                         
The Southern Nevada area has been in a drought for the past 15 years. Even though rain and snowfalls fluctuate year to year, on average over the past 16 years water tables throughout the state have been dropping like a rock. As a whole the desert is a harsh environment of mostly sand and rock where the evaporation rate far exceeds precipitation. Even though plants and animals have special adaptions to deal with harsh conditions such as extreme heat, cold and lack of water for long periods, the drought is finally reaching a point where many are near the end of their life cycles. I have evidenced many cacti which can go years without proper watering are beginning to just dry up and die. Wildlife levels, do to a scarcity of adequate plant-life to feed upon, have noticeably fallen over the same period. In spite of all this, there is the ever enduring Joshua tree, that is in fact, not a tree.
                           
It's a tree-like succulent that is actually a member of the agave family. For more information on the Joshua Tree check out the following page ... Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia). It is impossible to estimate their age as their trunks are filled with fibers instead of the growth rings found in typical trees. Its primary pollinator is the yucca moth that nurses its large, soccer ball-sized flower with its cream-colored petal. It appears to be a malformed peculiarity with gangling and odd shaped branches that seem to point in no particular direction. It is found in mostly Mojave Desert ecozones.
                                   
At first glance, this flat, gently sloped alluvial plain between Searchlight NV and Nipton CA appears rather plain and boring; however, it offers a wide variety of plant life and occasionally, for the patient, glimpses of birds, lizards and other desert animals. Wee Thump Joshua Tree is a relatively small (6,050 acres) wilderness area that was established to protect a forest of dense, old-growth Joshua trees. The wilderness area is relatively flat, sloping gently from west to east at elevations ranging from about 5,000 to 4,100 feet, in a roughly triangular valley (Fig. 02) between the McCullough and Highland ranges and the north shoulder of the New York Mountains, just west of Searchlight, NV. The area lies on the bajada below the South McCullough Mountains.  The bajada, composed entirely of outwash materials from the McCullough Mountains, dominates the local geology. Alluvial soils are deep and well sorted, with few rocks of any size in the wilderness area. The soils appear to be coarse-grained decomposed granite, but they are the decomposition products of metamorphic rocks.

There are several places along the highway between Searchlight and Nipton where one can spend hours visiting this and other areas looking for rocks and snapping pictures of Joshua trees, the  Prickly Pear Cactus, the  Buckhorn Chollathe Mojave (Banana) Yucca, Blackbrush, the Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata and a variety of other low-growing desert shrubs. The Joshua trees in this area were some of the largest I've ever seen. The only place on earth in which they live is the Mojave Desert. The area is also known for a diverse community of Mojave desert life, including kit fox, great horned owl, the gilded flicker (which is known to occur in Nevada only at this location) and the federally threatened desert tortoise.

Trip Notes: The purpose of this page is to act as a summary by providing links with pictures and descriptions of my various hiking visits to this spot over the past several years. Obviously, the primary focus here are the Joshua Trees. For more information on the Joshua Tree check out the following page ... Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia). The trip notes below provide information and pictured from each of my previous visits.
                                         
10/22/2016 Trip Notes: My most recent visit was with my friend Jim Herring, who had never been here before. Because this was my third visit, I didn't take very many pictures. On today's visit we drove about half way into the wilderness, further than I had hiked on my previous visits (Fig. 03). As you can see from (Fig. 04), with Jim standing in front of it, we did encounter some very large trees.
                                                   
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
10/06/2011 Trip Notes: The link found here actually provides pictures and descriptions of two visits to "Wee Thump" in 2011. Even though there isn't  lot to photograph here, it is just the stark the beauty of these wonderful old Joshua Trees against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains. The solitude of this desert plateau has lots of desert grasses, almost making you feel like you are in the grassy plains of the mid-west. Depending upon the time of year when you visit, and the amount of recent rain can provide you will a variety of interesting and colorful vegetation scattered about the landscape. Click here for pictures and descriptions of these two visits ... Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area - 10/06/2011 Trip Notes.


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Slideshow Description: The slideshow above contains 49 pictures that were taken inside the Wee Thump Wilderness Area and at various stops along the "Joshua Tree Highway".

Cottonwood Valley Road - 10/29/2016 Trip Notes

(Fig. 01)
Directions:  Cottonwood Valley Road, a.k.a. Goodsprings Road, is a north-south dirt road that runs between between Highway 160 (the road to Pahrump) and Highway 161 at Goodsprings. As a result it is accessable from either end. For the north end of Cottonwood Valley Road, from Las Vegas drive about 12 miles west on Highway 160 (Pahrump Highway) to the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead on the left, about a mile past the Midnight Trailhead sign. When approaching the south end of Cottonwood Valley Road, from Las Vegas, drive south on Interstate-15 to Jean. At Jean, exit the interstate and turn right onto Highway 161, towards Goodsprings and Sandy Valley. Go about 5,5 miles and turn right onto the Goodsprings Bypass Road. Turn right onto the truck route and follow the pavement around the east side of town. After about 3.2 miles the road forks. Turn right onto the dirt road, which is Cottonwood Valley Road. Continuing on the paved road takes you out to the Rainbow Quarry.

Description: This 11 mile, unmaintained dirt road is bounded by the Potosi Mountain Range on the west and the Birdspring Range on the east (Fig. 01). The majority of this narrow road is relatively well maintained, and sometimes travels through several wash areas that can be quite rocky. Along the length of the road it passes several side roads, but the Cottonwood Valley Road is usually obvious, straight ahead. However, a portion of the northern end of the road, especially near Cottonwood Pass, is quite washed out and rough, and definately requires a 4WD vehicle.

10/29/2016 Trip Notes: On this trip, Jim Herring and I rented a jeep and decided to Goodsprings and out to the large redstone crop out behind the town. We first drove up Pauline Road to the north end of the outcrop and hiked up Aztec Road for a look around. Pauline road was in must worse shape than it was on my previous visit. On the way out we encountered a small band of wild horses on the east side of the road (Figs. 02 & 04). Once we reached Aztec Road, a nice view northwest from the top looked towards the Mt. Potosi Range and the Contact Mine (center of Fig. 05), a place we had visited on a previous trip ... http://kensphotogallery.blogspot.com/2016/03/contact-mine-pauline-mine.html.  On the way back to the Goodsprings Bypass road to the the intersection of Cottonwood Valley Road, we passed a second band of different horses (Figs. 06 & 07). (notes continued below)
                                      
(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)

(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
Trip Notes Continued: After turning onto the dirt Cottonwood Valley Road, we headed north to Route 160. As we headed out it unexpectively started to "cloud up" and get quite windy. Along the way out we had views of the Birdspring Range on the right (background in Fig. 06), and the Red Aztec Sandstone outcrop and the Potosi Mountain Range on our left (Fig. 08). From the Goodspring end, this road parallels a pipe line. About a a third of the way out, the path of the pipeline crosses the road. We found some boulders here and decided to stop and have a picnic lunch (Fig. 09). See the location on the map in (Fig. 01). From our lunch spot we had a great view of the Mt. Potosi Range (Fig. 10). About a mile or so past here, the gas line crosses the road again and heads up Wilson Tank Road. For a relative short diversion, we should have taken this to the spring. After passing Wilson Takn Road, there were several roads that branched off to the west (800C & 800A) that lead to the Dawn and Ninetynine mines, both places that I had visited on a previous trip ... http://kensphotogallery.blogspot.com/2013/02/daytrip-dawn-and-ninetynine-mines.html. Continuing on we headed to Cottonwood Pass, where we took a steep side road to the top of the red sandstone hill. The top of this hill provided great views in every direction. The view in (Fig. 11) is due north looking towards hyway 160, the Wilson Cliffs, Cottonwood Valley and the Calico Hills in Red Rock Canyon park. the hill towards. After decending this viewpoint, the drive through Cottonwood Pass was a difficult drive. From here it was only a matter of another four miles to reach hyway 160 (Fig. 01). For more on the Cottonwood Valley area, check out the following links ....

                                                                                                   
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
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Yucca peak Fossil Beds Hike - 10/04/2016 Trip Notes

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This page last updated on 06/15/2017

(Fig. 01)
(Fig. 02)
10/04/2016 Trip Notes: Today, Jim Herring, Blake Smith and myself decided to hike the Yucca Peak Fossil trail. After passing Corn Creek Station & Visitor Center, you come to the intersection of Alamo Road and Mormon Well Road. At the road sign (Fig. 01), we turned right onto Mormon Well Road. Shortly this road turns left and then runs straight for the next several miles (Fig. 02) as it heads towards Yucca Gap, the gap between the Sheep Range and the Las Vegas Mountains. After driving through the Yucca Gap, we stopped (Fig. 03) to take a few pictures. The picture in (Fig. 04) is looking back toward the gap. For the next several miles, the road runs through the area known as Yucca Forest (Figs. 05 & 06), where you encounter hundreds of old, and sometimes quite large, yucca trees (Fig. 07). At about 10 miles out, you come to a fenced parking area and trailhead directly in front of Yucca Peak and the fossil ridge (Fig. 08). (con't below)
                                 
(Fig. 03)


(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
Trip Notes Continued: The flat, darker ridge in the upper left corner of the picture in (Fig. 08) is Fossil Ridge. To reach it, you have to hike .06 miles in and up and out of two very large washes and across some very rough desert, and around the flat, lighter ridge in the center of the picture. Rounding the lower ridge you can now see the protruding fossil ridge in (Fig. 09). Clicking on this picture, you can see (in yellow) the route you have to take to get to the top. The steep hike up this hillside is nothing but lots of loose rocks and several very sharp ledges; the hiking was definately more difficult than I remembered from three years ago. Quickly we realized that none of us had done any real hiking or climbing all summer and were totally out of shape for this hike. Also realizing the hiking back down is always harder than going up, we decided to abandon our goal of reaching the top today. You can see the alternate route we took (green) in (Fig. 10). As we hiked across this area we had the beautiful scenic view found in (Fig. 11). We then hiked down a steep revine on the other side of this ridge, rather than backtracking. Even this decent was much more difficult than it looks in the picture in (Fig. 12). If you click this picture to enlarge it, you can see Jim in front of me on the way down and the 'white' arrow in the upper right portion of the picture points to where we parked the car which is about three quarters of a mile in the distance. Even though we never reached the top of fossil ridge, Jim did find several rocks that contained various fossil corals, shells, sponges, horn corals, and crinoids (Fig. 13). Jim also found a rock in-bedded with a fossilized gastropod, a single coiled shell, similar to that of a snail (Fig. 14).  Also, on the way back driving down Mormon Well road we spotted a large Great Basin Collard Lizard (Figs. 15 & 16). Click here to read more about this guy ... Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores).
                                     
(Fig. 08) 
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11) 
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)

(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)

Return to the Yucca Fossil Ridge Summary page ...

St. Thomas Nevada - Summary Page

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(Fig. 01)


(Fig. 02)

Directions: St. Thomas is located approximately 82 miles NE of Las Vegas. From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and turn right to merge onto US-93/95. Go 12.5 miles and Merge onto NV-564 E/W Lake Mead Pkwy via Exit 61B. Heading east on NV-564 (Lake Mead Blvd) go over the mountains (passing between Frenchman Mountain to the south and Sunrise Mountain to the north) to the park entrance station. Pay the entrance fee ($5 per car or an annual pass), and proceed to the T-intersection with Northshore Road (NV Rt 167) and Lakeshore Road (NV Rt 166). Bear left and drive north on Northshore Road (NV 167) towards Overton, NV. Turn right opposite the Valley of Fire Road onto Old St. Thomas Road and travel 3.3 miles to the parking area and trailhead at the end. Though this road was wash out back in May of 2016, it has since been "regraded" and can be reached without a high clearance vehicle.

General DescriptionSt. Thomas, Nevada, elevation 1,204 feet, is a ghost town in Clark County, Nevada, in Mopa Valley near where the Muddy River flows into the Colorado River (Fig. 02). I have hiked this location on four occasions. From the parking and trailhead (Fig. 01), it is a moderate 2.5 to 3 mile hike to the shoreline, out and back hike. Do not wander too far off the trail or you may get stuck in the mucky sediment that used to be underwater. In addition, the town site has been over-run with an invasive plant species called Tamarisk. You must be careful not to walk on the stumps of the Tamarisk.  These hardy plants are both a nuisance and a potential safety hazard. The branches and leaves can produce cuts and bruising, while the trunks are very hardy and when cut to a stub (Fig. 04) can puncture the soles of your shoes. The is a vault toilet near the trailhead.

St. Thomas was purchased by the US Federal Government and was finally abandoned as the waters of Lake Mead, created by the building of the Hoover Dam, submerged the town. It is now located within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The fluctuations of the lake water levels resulting from a series of droughts, St. Thomas has arisen from the depths several times since 1938; in 1945, 1963, and 2012. Today the town is still exposed and visitors can roam the roads and trails that were once a thriving wild west town. The map in (Fig. 03) is a pre-flooding reconstruction of  St. Thomas. The path we hiked of our recent 10/13/2016 visit is shown in yellow.
                                                       
(Fig. 03)
(Fig.04)
10/13/2016 Trip Notes: Today I visited St. Thomas for the fourth time, this time with my friends Jim Herring and Blake Smith. As a result, I didn't take very many pictures, however, I did hike to a section of town that I had not visited before. Click here for pictures and info on today’s visit … St. Thomas - 10/13/2016 Trip Notes 

01/16/2014 Trip Notes: This was my third visit to this ghost town with the rock-hounds from Henderson’s Heritage Park Senior Facility. On this visit I was armed with a better map showing the layout for many of the towns more prominent buildings. As a result I was better able to identify more of the exposed foundation remains. Though it is very difficult to be 100% sure about the following foundation/building identifications - I have made them by judging their relationship on the map to various foundations that I am sure of. Click here for pictures and info on today’s visit … St. Thomas 01/16/2014 Trip Notes.

04/05/2012 Trip Notes: This was my second visit to this town in four months. This three-mile hike provides the perfect opportunity to stroll walk back in time and use your imagination to envision what life was like before the waters of Lake Mead covered this small farming and railroad community; of days when schoolboys climbed the fruit trees and its fields were filled with orchards and grains. Though I had been  hopeful that I would be able to capture some budding plants and flowers, it was still too early in the spring. I did however, locate a few major foundations that I had missed on my previous visit here. Click here for pictures and info on today's visit ... St Thomas - 04/05/2012 Trip Notes

12/15/2011 Trip Notes: This was one of the more interesting places we visited all year. Out of curiosity I decided to do some additional research on the town's history so as to add more meaning to the pictures that I captured on today's hike. Click here for pictures and info on today's visit ... St. Thomas - 12/15/2011 - Trip Notes.